HIROSHIMA'S SHADOW

WRITINGS ON THE DENIAL OF HISTORY AND THE SMITHSONIAN CONTROVERSY

An exhaustive, controversial, and moving volume that has its origins in the Smithsonian Institution’s cancellation of a planned exhibition in 1994—95 of the Enola Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. To be included in the exhibition’s script were several scholarly studies and a number of historical documents that questioned the military necessity and moral legitimacy of that act. The book, then, moves along two paths: a painstaking analysis of how and why the bomb came to be used, and a provocative deliberation on what the editors (Bird, a contributing editor of the Nation, and Lifschultz, former South Asia correspondent of the Far Eastern Economic Review) term the “pathology of denial” in the US surrounding our use of the bomb. While voices in support of the bombing of Hiroshima are to be found here, most of the contributors in various ways attempt to debunk the myths and assumptions that have built up concerning this act. The first part of the book offers selections by present-day historians. The second part is devoted to essays written shortly after the bombing. Part three focuses on the Smithsonian controversy itself. Part four presents chilling first-person accounts of the day Hiroshima died. The final part is devoted to historical documents, memos, and diary entries of those who participated in the decision to use the bomb and also public statements pleading against this decision. As a century of extreme barbarism draws to a close, the editors ask us to think critically about the US contribution to this barbarism, the unleashing upon the world of atomic and nuclear weapons. Their purpose is not to apportion blame, to point fingers, but rather to allow us to look at our history and perhaps gain what is often so elusive: wisdom. (8 b&w photos)

Pub Date: June 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-9630587-3-8

Page Count: 660

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A PEOPLE'S HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES

For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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